Continuing from yesterday’s post:
We had visited one of the more obscure sites in Derbyshire. It was one we did not know well, so spending time with the stones, hidden away within a copse of trees, was something we felt we needed to do. We worked with the stones and, as I meditated in one particular spot, seated above where a burial had been placed, I seemed to see the procession of the Ancestors, stretching back from the present to the farthest reaches of the past in an unbroken line. It was a curious experience that left me in need of the grounding effects of a pub.
Our usual hostelry in the area having recently been sadly modernised, we headed for the nearest inn… a tiny little place, itself way off the beaten track, which had never been open when we had passed, winter or summer. The doors were open… and, within, there was the choice of another two doors. One, we found later, led into a spacious and well-appointed bar that was completely empty, while the other, the one into which we walked as if it were the only choice, led into a tiny snug where a handful of villagers and their dogs were sitting.
It was surreal. The bar itself seemed centuries out of time, and our reception was of the kind that weighs up tourists and ‘outsiders’ with a well-practised and cynical air. Supplied with drinks, the only place to sit left us at a table with one of the locals. He was talking to the others in the little bar, but soon turned around to offer some politeness or other.
We must have ‘passed muster’, for, within a few minutes, we were being included in the general conversation and, within a few minutes more, the old gentleman at our table had begun to ask questions. Were we on holiday? No? Then where were we from? Yorkshire? Ah, he was born and bred there too. A little place called Pudsey, on the outskirts of Leeds Did we know it? I did, being born just around the corner… He had spent his youth in Farsley, did I know that too? … I should, my godmother owned the ballroom on the High Street… Did he know Rodley? He did… and even remembered Longfield, the big house where my grandparents had lived. His father and my other grandfather had both worked as electrical engineers for Cohen’s, and at the same time too. It was rather uncanny, considering we both now live a fair way from ‘home’ and had met at such a distance from it too.
The ice was broken by the shared history. New people came in… ‘outsiders’ that were ignored and left to themselves. Our new friend told us about his life… forty years working with the life of the land around the village, ever since his marriage. Then, he told us that he had lost his wife, just days before, and how much he had loved her. They had been together all their adult lives, and he adored her. He spoke of her with tears streaming down his face, gripping my hand like a man drowning might grasp a spar.
It was not that he was alone, far from it. He was part of the life of the village and the others were there for him. His son lived in the village too. He had friends. But whatever it was he needed to share that day, needed to be heard by someone ‘other’.
We stayed with him a very long time as he told us how he felt. He spoke of the practical problems he was facing and how he was lost without his wife… he hadn’t clue where to start…with anything. He told us how he was afraid to go back to their home, knowing he would find it empty… and how, as he could not bear to sleep in their bed alone, he had slept on the sofa with her dog since her death…
We had not planned on being in the pub for more than twenty minutes, but it was very much later when we eventually took him home. He introduced us to his wife’s dog, a gorgeous Springer. His dog really, he said, but his missus had spoiled her, so… He showed us photographs and told us anecdotes of their youth together, once more sharing memories of places that were part of my own story. He held me tight and wept… and we did not leave until we knew he would soon be with a friend.
It was no more than a chance encounter. We did no more than anyone would have done… we let him talk, listened, and offered what little comfort we could when grief was so raw. It was only afterwards, driving back to Sheffield, that it struck us how odd a meeting it had been in the circumstances.
We had gone from the isolated circle to an old inn no more than half a mile away… a place that is never open. Miles from home, we had met a man born within walking distance of my own natal patch. We had done so after working with the stones and ‘seeing’ the line of ancestors stretch back from the ancient to the most recent dead. Perhaps, after all, the stones and the Ancestors were still looking after their own…
If you have had a strange experience or encounter that you would like to share, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org (or my usual email if you already have it) and we can discuss a guest post.
I am not looking for sensationalism or fictional tales… but in light of the response to some recent posts, I think it would be both useful and reassuring to others to realise that none of us are alone in these strange encounters and experiences. Perhaps we can open discussion on what they may be or may mean…and each of us sees our own reality.
If you would like to share your story but prefer to remain anonymous, we can discuss that too. If you would like to share your beliefs and opinions on the nature of these experiences, I would be happy to talk about a guest post. Through sharing with respect we may learn to understand our world and each other a little better.
You can find some previously published guests here